Grand Canyon’s explosive gastroenteritis was a 3-month, multisource outbreak

ARS Technica - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 15:31
The Grand Canyon viewed from the South Rim adjacent to the El Tovar Hotel on November 11, 2019, in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.

Enlarge / The Grand Canyon viewed from the South Rim adjacent to the El Tovar Hotel on November 11, 2019, in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. (credit: Getty | George Rose)

The explosive outbreak of gastroenteritis that erupted in the Grand Canyon earlier this year was likely sparked by multiple people hauling in norovirus infections, according to a recent study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The infectious blast ended up violently hollowing out of at least 222 visitors to the geologic marvel over a brisk, but brutal three-month period

As Ars readers may recall, the National Park Service issued warnings early in the summer that an outbreak was gutting river rafters and hikers. But the new study, led by local and CDC officials, offers a more detailed look at the outbreak that left outdoor adventurers grasping the rims of basins much smaller than that of the Colorado River.

The trouble appears to have begun in early April, with the first identified case striking a backpacker on April 4. On April 8, a commercial rafting company notified the National Park's Office of Public Health (OPH) that seven people on a rafting trip fell ill with vomiting and/or diarrhea. The cases kept streaming in through April and erupted in early May. The OPH contacted the CDC on May 11, after collecting dozens of case reports. By May 21, the OPH received reports of an additional 102 cases from 13 river rafting groups and several backpackers.

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Categories: Tech News

This TikTok-Viral Carpet Scraper Completely Purged Lint From My Life

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 15:10

I don’t have a pet. But, as an anemic vegetarian who sheds a lot of hair and owns three shag rugs, I am my own pet. Vacuuming is, or should be, a weekly deal in my Brooklyn apartment; there’s the dust and muck that comes in from the city streets, the errant fluff balls from my cherished Scandi rugs, the fallout from all of my goblincore hobbies (incense blending, sewing, and general witchcraft), and the crazy speed at which my roommate's and my hair tangles into Princess Mononoke monster-esque floor floofs.

There’s a lot to not only suck, but hand-pick out of my rugs when I’m cleaning. And while I love my $61 Bissell vacuum, I don’t always want to schlep it out every time my rugs are looking musty. So when I was scrolling through TikTok before bed and saw the Uproot Clean carpet scraper, I was smitten, albeit skeptical that it could get rid of carpet gunk in seconds.  The American Girl Doll-sized rake (?) appeared to effortlessly remove all of the hair and debris from surfaces of all kinds—carpets, couches, cat furniture, and even clothes—with some legit As Seen on TV magic. Only this wasn’t an infomercial. It was real (accidental ASMR) content from people who love their pets, but hate the way they shed:

I have painstakingly curated my FYP algorithm over the years. My content is a *chef’s kiss* blend of fantasy shit, that dude who carves sculptures from Mini Babybels, and anonymous people power-cleaning dirty rugs. With over 42 million views on TikTok, the #uprootclean hashtag was my holy grail—I binged the vids, poured over the 13,300 Amazon reviews, and smashed that order button to see if it could clean up my rugs, and maybe even my soul.

What was rad

“STOP! Scan before using” the packaging on my Uproot scraper read, instructing me to instead scan the QR code on its little plastic casing. I liked getting dommed by the instruction manuals of my cleaning gear, so I was relieved to see that Uproot does the most to make sure you understand how to… rake? It’s very intuitive to use, TBH. But you should ideally use it at a 45-degree angle for hard/short fabrics, and comb over delicate fabrics at a 90-degree angle. (In both instances, move the scraper from left to right or top to bottom.)

I actually like pulling hair out of the drain, so I loved this. I brushed the scraper over my short-haired kitchen rug, and it removed all of the hair and dust in a cinch. I used it on my Jamiroquai-like hat to get rid of pilling. But the real test came when I needed to clean my shag and wool flokati rug—the latter is especially high-maintenance and sheds everywhere. I don’t mind the upkeep, as it’s in a pretty low-traffic part of my house (the bedroom… lol) but it does have some salacious reviews on Amazon. In the words of one reviewer, “Its [shedding is] worse than herpes. I want to F***ing burn it. I just want to spread awareness of this carpet.” Here is how it looked before it got Uprooted:

FullSizeRender (1).jpegPhoto by the Author

… And after about four rakes:

FullSizeRender (2).jpegPhoto by Author

The difference was immediate. With all the hair and dust and stuff scraped out, it looked as good as new—no vacuum needed.

What was tricky

My only advice is to carry a little trash bag or trash can with you as your scrape, because you will be getting rid of even more gunk from your rugs/clothes than you anticipated.

I also wished that it came in a smaller travel size—and for once, my wish was answered. There is indeed a mini, folks:


If you have pets, this thing must be a godsend. I don’t have any, and it still is, because it removes all the hair and dust from my most high-maintenance rugs in seconds, and it takes infinitely less time to use than a whole ass vacuum. You just… scrape. It’s as gratifying as picking a scab that’s juuust ready to fall off and reveal baby fresh skin underneath, which is a rancid metaphor, I know, but it’s the only one that communicates how rad this thing is. Even if you decide you don’t need it (you’re wrong; you do), you should at least uncork the Whispering Angel and watch some of the deeply satisfying cleaning TikToks in which it went viral. I’m not saying it’s magic, but I am saying it’s a miracle even Jesus didn’t perform.

The Uproot Clean Pro Carpet Scraper is available on Amazon.

The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter.

Categories: Tech News

The Best Pet Halloween Costumes, From Cute to Weird to Terrifying

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 14:45

It’s Spooky Season, which is our annual time for bonding with Jamie Lee Curtis (who never quits), pounding down pumpkin Reese’s, and figuring out the best Halloween costumes for our pets that will one-up every other bunny-eared schnauzer at the dog park. (Amateur hour, man.) We’re here to turn our furry friends into 10-legged spiders, scorpions, and loaves of bread; we’re looking for cat Halloween costumes that say, “I watch Jurassic Park once a month,” and, “My cat and I are secretly dead Victorian women.”

Do be mindful of how your terrier feels in its frills, of course; some pets legit DGAF, but others would just rather not, ma’am. This isn’t Mommy Dearest, so don’t make us contact the pet psychic. Seriously, here’s their site (makes a great gift). Now that we have the important, obligatory disclaimer out of the way: Here are the best Halloween costumes for you and your dog, cat, snake, rat, hamster, lizard, and whatever other critters are your ride-or-dies this fall.

The best Halloween costumes for dogs

Make him the breadwinner

Get it? Because pets don’t do shit to pay rent, but we spend all our coins on them anyways?

Because your pet is a murderer (of your sanity/furniture/freedom)

They actually do make scratch-proof furniture for your cats and dogs. But until then, consider this their Scarlet Letter.

You're hosting the Halloween kegger and you need to warn your guests that your dog is an asshole

What a prick. Still love ‘em, though.

Definitely rewatching Hocus Pocus this year (and every year)

This way, you and your bud can go out as the other two Sanderson sisters for Halloween.

Never forget that Goofy somehow had children

Meta, man.

If your dog is depressed…

… There are not enough tissues/hankies/calming lavender spray to stop the hot sludge tears that are streaming down my face. Also, why does this feel like something Werner Herz-dog would do?

Your dog is perma-stinky…

…Or is cosplaying as disgraced Looney Tunes character Pepé Le Pew.

Your dog is in Tame Impala

The less you know about what your dog is doing after the show, the better. (They’re just standing outside trying to bum a Marlbone.)

You're doing psychedelics in Joshua Tree all weekend and your dog is coming

If you thought you stared at your dog too much before, just wait until the mushrooms kick in, dude.

Because four legs was never enough

If you want to recreate one of the greatest internet relics of the modern era, the Mutant Giant Spider Dog, now's your chance.

Your dog is cottagecore

The now-infamous strawberry dress was way too basic for you, but you can still make your doggo look berry delicious.

Your love language is spicy tuna

Yes, a giant chopsticks costume exists, but it’s kind of terrifying.

Your dog lazy AF and everyone knows it

While you can’t legally own a sloth—actually, might wanna fact check that one—dressing your dog up as the internet’s, like, fourth favorite animal (?) is the next best thing.

This one's for the millennials

Don’t be shocked if the kids don’t “heart” your Instagram post. They never watched Are You Afraid of the Dark? either, so you can be sure they missed out.

You religiously watch MUNCHIES videos

Today’s the day you start grooming your pup to be the next test kitchen intern.

The best Halloween costumes for cats

You're always threatening to eat your cat

There’s a kind of perverse, Texas justice about sticking a plushy turkey on your little turkey’s head. “Cute aggression” is a real thing, and this is one semi-healthy way of acting on it. Can’t explain it. Just need it.

Your cat has the energy of a drug baron

You know that one cat who eats your other cat’s food? The one that poops in the bathtub sometimes, just because he can? This one’s for him.

You incessantly quote Jurassic Park

What, you were expecting a T-Rex? Baby. Please. Put on your best Laura Dern khaki shorts, and let’s get our Stegosaurus on.

There is nothing in your cat's head besides air

To be fair, same.

You're pretty sure the soul of an old Victorian woman is trapped in your cat's body

You can’t tell me this cat doesn’t know how to cook a great meatloaf.

The best Halloween costumes for all your other pets, you weirdo

Guess we’re befriending a guinea pig now

Someone please give this guinea pig model its own Pixar movie.

A witch hat for your bearded dragon, toad, or Troll doll

Congratulations! You have now entered the domain of frog memes.

Knitwear for your snake

Not only is this charming, but somehow… elegant? The power of knitwear, man.

What, like chickens don't deserve costumes too?

You. A chicken. A dream. A pair of rollerskates, and the runway that is Venice Beach. GOOOO. But make sure you both have matching helmets. Safety first.

See you on them trick-or-treat streets. Speaking of, have you seen what’s going on in doggy streetwear lately? Unreal.

The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story.

Categories: Tech News

Matrix chat encryption sunk by five fatal holes

The Register - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 14:22
You take the green pill, and you'll spend six hours in a 'don't roll your own crypto' debate

Four security researchers have identified five cryptographic vulnerabilities in code libraries that can be exploited to undermine the Matrix federated communication protocol and its client software. This includes impersonating users and sending messages as them.…

Categories: Tech News

Once and For All: Is the Dyson Airwrap Worth It?

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 14:21

Welcome back to Once and For All, where we figure out whether the stuff people rave about, cherish, and form their entire identities around is actually worth the investment. We've looked at cast iron panslinen sheets, and more, and today, we're investigating Dyson's internet-famous Airwrap hair styling gadget.

Some people like to splurge on bottle service (have fun with the 700% markup on that bottle of Patrón), while others have zero issue spending their hard-earned clams on Airbnbing a geodesic dome in the desert. For others yet, there are more practical ventures—perhaps learning to make perfect poached eggs via Gordon Ramsey’s MasterClass. When it comes to big purchases, we all have different ideas about what’s actually worth it. Which leads us to one of the most hyped (and priciest) hair tools out there, the Dyson Airwrap

As with any Dyson product, the Airwrap—a medium-sized, high-end, multi-styling hair gadget—has quickly accrued legions of fans swearing allegiance to its oversized storage case. It’s sold out and been restocked a bajillion times, taken over TikTok, and become the most storied beauty appliance on the internet. It’s also very expensive. But could a device that costs $600 be worth it for someone like me who is lazy AF? Sure, I want Rapunzel hair, but getting ready to go out already feels exhausting sometimes, and adding hair-wrapping into the mix is just another thing for my never-ending to-do list. Still, my curiosity was piqued—so I thought I’d give the damn thing a shot. I wasn’t sure what I was in for, but all I know is it’s high-tech, has overshadowed even the popularity of Dyson’s god-tier vacuums, and this girl’s video went viral for showing dudes how it worked.  

What makes the Dyson Airwrap different from a standard blow dryer or curling iron is that it uses air pressure, rather than heat, to give you a professional-level blowout at home. Powered by a digital, 13-blade spinning impeller motor, it produces three precise airflow speeds that gently attract hair to its surface as you’re styling. Instead of manually lifting hair piece by piece yourself, the airflow grabs hard to reach hair all by itself. To put it simply, it’s a two-in-one blow dryer and styler. To further simplify things, the airflow temperature is measured and regulated using intelligent heat control, so your tresses are being styled without extreme heat, mitigating damage. 

It also features six different attachments: a smoothing dryer, 1.6” curling barrel, 1.2” curling barrel, firm smoothing brush, soft smoothing brush, and round volumizing brush. Expect Lady Godiva curls from the barrel attachments, a volumizing blowout from the round brush, and sleek, straight looks from the smoothing brush attachments. 

I haven’t used many hair tools in my day, so using this was like going on a first date: I didn’t know what to expect, and figured I may want to ghost after 15 minutes. Lucky for me, my roommate has one, so I didn’t have to make a huge financial commitment to test it out. We played hair salon (sans the hairdresser trying to cut off more hair than you asked for—why do they do that???) to see whether this futuristic Flowbee lives up to its promises. 

Since Dyson recommends your hair be about 80% dry before styling, I washed my hair, allowed it to dry somewhat, and started using the Airwrap on sections of my hair. While all hair types can benefit from this device, the smoothing dryer works best on naturally straight or wavy hair, like mine. I watched it magically attract and then pin down and iron out my strands through its two jets of air, working to dry and straighten at the same time. According to Dyson, it will give you 58% less frizz, which seems to be true given the results I experienced. All I did was rub some argan oil throughout my hair to keep everything shiny and subdued and I looked like an SSENSE model for the rest of the day.

Next came the styling part. I went with the soft smoothing brush with more gentle bristles since my hair is super-fine. I watched the Dyson Airwrap in awe as it glided down my hair, leaving behind a sleek trail of sheen as smooth as these silky sheets I wanna cop. Like a sentient robot version of Jonathan Van Ness, it brushed and blow dried each strand to My Little Pony perfection. Ultimately, it left me with a silky smooth straight look, just as if I’d had magic worked on me by the pros. After I was done smoothing things down, I set the style with a shot of cold air, which seals the hair cuticle. My look was complete. Even better, the smoothness lasted about three days—on par with a fancy blowout, and sadly, it finally had to go when it was time to wash my hair. I needed a device that would do the work for me, and I’ve found it. 

Screen Shot 2022-09-28 at 3.06.21 PM.png

Truthfully, though, I’m not surprised it put on a stellar performance. I saw the extremely effusive positive reviews on Dyson’s website, and it’s clearly a fan favorite among the haircare crowd. If you suffer from frizz, this sucker is your holy grail and one-way ticket to glossy hair town. Or, if you just want a rad gadget that will do all the hair hard labor for you, that’s cool, too. 

TL;DR: The Dyson Airwrap is a workhorse for your mane, man bun, tresses, whatever you want to call your precious locks. It may look daunting at first given its tech-savvy specs and attachments, but it’s so easy your 70-year-old barber on Bowery can use it. That’s how you know it's great, given my grandmother doesn’t even know how to send a text message but could master the Airwrap. Gift it to your friend that has hair that looks like they stuck their finger in a socket, or yourself, you hardworking champ. 

The Airwrap is available for purchase on Dyson’s website. 

The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter

Categories: Tech News

Daily Horoscope: September 29, 2022

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 14:00

Venus enters Libra at 3:49 AM, inspiring an atmosphere of harmony, collaboration, and beauty! It’s a lovely time for connection. The moon in Scorpio opposes Uranus in Taurus at 3:49 AM, perhaps stirring up unexpected feelings, and we could feel the pressure of our responsibilities as the moon squares off with Saturn in Aquarius at 4:57 AM. A more easygoing atmosphere arrives as the moon connects with Neptune in Pisces at 1:03 PM. The moon connects with Mercury retrograde in Virgo at 2:58 PM, kicking up communication, and deep emotions are explored as the moon connects with Pluto in Capricorn at 5:20 PM.

All times ET.

Stay in the cosmic loop with the VICE horoscopes newsletter. Get horoscopes straight to your inbox when you sign up here!

Aries glyph Aries: March 20, 2022 - April 19, 2022

Venus enters your opposite sign Libra today, activating the relationship sector of your chart and boding well for partnership and connection! The moon in Scorpio connects with Mercury retrograde in Virgo, finding you resolving a lingering issue.

Taurus glyphs Taurus: April 19, 2022 - May 20, 2022

Your ruling planet Venus enters Libra today, which can find you craving a spa day or wardrobe update. The moon in Scorpio opposes Uranus in Taurus, finding you connecting with someone unexpected, or having a surprising conversation with a partner.

Gemini glyph Gemini: May 20, 2022 - June 21, 2022

Venus enters fellow air sign Libra today, lighting up the romance and creativity sector of your chart—this is an exciting time for connection! The moon in Scorpio connects with your ruling planet Mercury, currently retrograde in Virgo, finding you revisiting an issue concerning your home life or your past.

Cancer glyph Cancer: June 21, 2022 - July 22, 2022

Venus enters Libra today, inspiring a warm, cozy atmosphere at home and with family. The moon in fellow water sign Scorpio connects with Pluto in Capricorn, finding you having deep, meaningful discussions with partners.

Leo glyph Leo: July 22, 2022 - August 22, 2022

Sweet messages may arrive as Venus enters Libra today! Venus in this air sign bodes well for communication and connection. The moon in Scorpio opposes Uranus in Taurus and squares off with Saturn in Aquarius, which can find you making important changes at home and in your relationships.

Virgo glyph Virgo: August 22, 2022 - September 22, 2022

Venus enters Libra today, activating the financial sector of your chart. This can bode well for you regarding your wealth and sense of security. A gift may come your way! The moon in Scorpio connects with your ruling planet Mercury, currently retrograde in your sign, Virgo, finding you having an intriguing conversation.

Libra glyph Libra: September 22, 2022 - October 23, 2022

Your ruling planet Venus enters your sign today, Libra, which can find you feeling especially charming and attractive! This bodes very well for your relationships. The moon in Scorpio connects with Pluto in Capricorn, which could find you focused on themes like home, family, finances, and security.

Scorpio glyph Scorpio: October 23, 2022 - November 22, 2022

You may feel more shy as Venus enters Libra today. You could be craving private time alone with your lover. It’s a lovely moment to enjoy a peaceful, secluded retreat. The moon is in your zodiac sign, Scorpio, and it connects with your ruling planet Pluto, currently in Capricorn, finding you learning intriguing information.

Sagittarius glyph Sagittarius: November 22, 2022 - December 21, 2022

Venus enters Libra today, bringing blessings to the friendship sector of your chart and boding well for the intellectual connection you share with your partners. The moon in Scorpio opposes Uranus in Taurus, which could find your schedule being rearranged unexpectedly. Stay flexible! A change in routine may be exactly what you need.

Capricorn glyph Capricorn: December 21, 2021 - January 19, 2022

Attention and applause may come your way as Venus enters Libra. This can bode well for your career! The moon in Scorpio connects with Pluto, currently in your zodiac sign, Capricorn, finding you connecting with influential people.

Aquarius glyphs Aquarius: January 19, 2022 - February 18, 2022

Good news from afar may arrive as Venus enters fellow air sign Libra today. The intellectual connection you share with your partners can deepen! The moon in Scorpio squares off with your ruling planet Saturn, currently in Aquarius, perhaps finding you renegotiating plans or responsibilities.

Pisces glyph Pisces: February 18, 2022 - March 20, 2022

Venus enters Libra today, which could find people eager to invest in you. Fairness and collaboration are highlighted at this time, boding well for your relationships, especially if you and your partners share finances and responsibilities. The moon in fellow water sign Scorpio connects with your ruling planet Neptune, currently in Pisces, inspiring your imagination and sense of adventure!

Categories: Tech News

Razer joins the “handheld streaming console” wars, which are now a thing somehow

ARS Technica - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 13:45
Fun fact: The divot in the middle of the D-pad can also hold a very small amount of salsa or dip.

Enlarge / Fun fact: The divot in the middle of the D-pad can also hold a very small amount of salsa or dip. (credit: Verizon)

Just one week after Logitech confirmed its Android-based, streaming-focused G CLOUD Gaming Handheld, fellow peripheral maker Razer is getting in on the act. The Razer Edge 5G, announced in conjunction with Verizon at Mobile World Congress today, will play games "downloaded to play locally, streamed from your console or accessed directly from the cloud."

BREAKING: @Verizon, @Razer and @Qualcomm are teaming up on the world's first 5G mobile gaming handheld—Razer Edge 5G! It will allow you to play your favorite games regardless of whether you are gaming in the cloud, on an app or streaming from your console.

— George Koroneos 🗿🍹 (@GLKCreative) September 28, 2022

As the name implies, Verizon and Razer are leaning heavily into their console as "the world's first 5G mobile gaming handheld," complete with the ability to stream or download games "over 5G Ultra Wideband." That should be an upgrade from 10 years ago, when Sony integrated a 3G mobile antenna in some versions of the PlayStation Vita, letting the device serve as a highly questionable cell phone replacement. That version of the system saw a severe price drop just months after launch before it was discontinued later that year, suggesting a lack of excitement for mobile data options in a game console at the time.

Not just a dev kit anymore

The Edge 5G will be based on Qualcomm's Snapdragon G3x Gen 1 Gaming Platform, which the chipmaker revealed as a reference design last November. That announcement came alongside a Razer-designed dev kit for the platform, which featured a 6.65-inch OLED, 120 Hz screen, built-in 1080p webcam, and "Snapdragon Sound" four-way speakers (as well as theoretical support for 4K, 144 fps, 10-bit HDR color output via a DisplayPort USB-C connection to an external monitor).

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Categories: Tech News

Today’s best deals: Apple MacBook Air, Sony and LG 4K TVs, Nintendo Switch, and more

ARS Technica - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 13:35
Today’s best deals: Apple MacBook Air, Sony and LG 4K TVs, Nintendo Switch, and more


Time for another mid-week Dealmaster. Our latest roundup of the best tech deals from around the web includes a nice discount on Apple's latest M2-based MacBook Air in both the 256GB and 512GB versions. With $100 and $150 discounts, respectively, these are the lowest prices we've tracked on the new MacBook Airs.

In our review, we noted the MacBook Air's excellent hardware, build quality, battery life, and "out-of-this-world performance" for its size and weight. Going with an M2-based Air doesn't only mean better computing performance over the M1 MacBook Airs, but also an improved screen and a much nicer camera and audio system for video calls.

We also have a record low price on Sony's A80K 55-inch 4K television with Google TV. This is a deal exclusive to Prime members that knocks off $200 from its usual price. The A80K is well-reviewed for its punchy, wide-ranging contrast ratio, HDR performance, wide viewing angles, and excellent reflection handling.

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Categories: Tech News

The web's cruising at 13 million new and nefarious domain names a month

The Register - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 13:20
Or so Akamai is dying to tell us

Akamai reckons that, in the first half of 2022 alone, it flagged nearly 79 million newly observed domains (NODs) as malicious.…

Categories: Tech News

Cloudflare’s CAPTCHA replacement lacks crosswalks, checkboxes, Google

ARS Technica - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 13:00
CAPTCHAs are meant to prevent these kinds of browsing scenarios, not train us all to better recognize vehicles and infrastructure in grainy photos.

Enlarge / CAPTCHAs are meant to prevent these kinds of browsing scenarios, not train us all to better recognize vehicles and infrastructure in grainy photos. (credit: Getty Images)

Cloudflare has recently made an audacious claim: We could all be doing something better with our lives than deciding which images contain crosswalks or stop lights or clicking an "I'm not a robot" checkbox. Now the cloud services company is offering up a free CAPTCHA alternative, Turnstile, available to anyone, Cloudflare customer or not, and specifically calling out Google's role in the existing "prove you're a human" hegemony.

Turnstile utilizes Cloudflare's Managed Challenge system, which takes cues from user behavior, browser data, and, on Apple devices, Private Access Tokens, to distinguish human visitors from bots and scripts. Cloudflare claims that its Managed Challenge system was able to reduce 91 percent of CAPTCHAs served to its customers' visitors over the course of a year.

Turnstile integrations run "a series of small non-interactive JavaScript challenges" to investigate the visitor, including proof of work and space, probing for web APIs, and "various other challenges for detecting browser-quirks and human behavior," Cloudflare's post states. The challenges vary by visitor, and machine learning can update the model with the common features of visitors who previously passed a test. The user only sees a "Verifying …" widget for a moment, then "Success!"

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Categories: Tech News

AMD's Ryzen V3000 goes head to head with Intel's embedded chips on power, oomph

The Register - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 12:14
House of Zen just needs to convince machine makers to use them

AMD put Intel’s low-power Xeon-D and industrial Core-series processors in its sights on Tuesday with the launch of its Ryzen Embedded V3000 CPUs.…

Categories: Tech News

More EV charging stations coming nationwide, electrifying 75K miles of highways

ARS Technica - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 12:11
More EV charging stations coming nationwide, electrifying 75K miles of highways

Enlarge (credit: Bloomberg / Contributor | Bloomberg)

For drivers choosing electric vehicles, convenient access to reliable charging stations remains one of the biggest pain points after adopting the eco-friendlier way to cruise. Just the thought of driving out of the way to find a charging station when planning road trips—rather than pop into a choice of many gas stations at any exit—deters so many drivers that it was starting to look like unreliable charging could be the deciding factor that could ultimately doom EVs.

Instead, the Department of Transportation and the Biden administration announced yesterday that America greenlit a plan to invest $5 billion over the next five years to create a more reliable charging network by installing EV chargers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The first wave of funding is available now, granting access to all states to "more than $1.5 billion to help build EV chargers covering approximately 75,000 miles of highway across the country."

"President Biden is leading the shift to electrify transportation—ensuring drivers can commute and charge confidently and affordably and lessening our oversized reliance on fossil fuels while combatting climate change," US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said in the press release.

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Categories: Tech News

Amazon’s Astro robot still isn’t ready for prime time

ARS Technica - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 11:54
Amazon Astro robot in a living room

Enlarge / A limited number of customers have had Astro in their living room. (credit: Amazon)

Amazon's press-only hardware event today included reveals of the Kindle Scribe, Eero extending mesh networks with Echo, updated Echo Dot and Studio speakers, plus an Echo dashboard accessory. Like last year, there was also talk of the Amazon Astro robot that can roll around homes equipped with a digital smile, camera, and microphones. This time, Amazon detailed new and planned features for Astro; however, a year after its initial announcement, Astro remains an invite-only experimental product.

Astro is a 17.3×9.8-inch robot, with Alexa, a smart display, microphones, speakers, night-vision LEDs, a periscope camera, cupholder, and visual simultaneous location and mapping (V-SLAM) for navigating around people's homes and unexpected obstacles, like a dropped item. You need to request an invite to pay $1,000 for the bot. An Amazon rep told Ars Technica that invites are currently sent out at "fairly regular intervals."

Amazon appears to be accepting invite requests while developing new features ahead of expected mass availability, whenever that may be. Amazon's event today didn't provide any updates to Astro seeing general availability. When Ars Technica asked Amazon about when general availability would happen, an Amazon rep wouldn't get more specific than "as quickly as possible."

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Categories: Tech News

The Best Scratch-Proof Furniture That Your Adorable Cat Can't Ruthlessly Destroy

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 11:33

How can I put this? If I ever had a kid, I would totally send it to boarding school if it pooped in my shoe. But you can’t do that with a cat. You can’t really say, “Go to the time-out corner,” or “It’s going to be a three-month sleepaway camp for you, Jeffrey'' if you need a break from watching your vases get knocked over or your furniture getting vomited upon. 

To all this, you might say, "Dude, control your cat." I hear you. I loved my cat. But even the most-well trained of felines will test the limits of our sanity. I don’t blame him (he’s still alive, BTW; just living in the south of France), I blame the temptation of the house plant. I blame the allure of the scratchable couch. 

“Do they like, make cat-proof couches?” I asked my friend recently while she was, in turn, watching her roommate’s tuxedo cat eyeball her sparkly vinyl dining chairs. “I mean, who is making the furniture that cats can’t scratch?” We love tuxedoed Papito. But we also deserve sexy dining chairs, and concluded it was time to do some online sleuthing. Luckily, we not only live in a time where cats get their own stylish, mini mid-century modern furniture, but where the couches, chairs, and loveseats designed for us humans are made out of highly durable, scratch-proof fabrics. 

Here’s the thing: You can either find furniture that will be able to take a bit of scratching and hair (avoid tender leather), or you can cut the bullshit and go straight for companies that are literally designing couches to survive rabid (OK, not rabid) pets. Both are valid paths, and both will make life a hell of a lot easier for you and Fluffy. Here are the absolute best pieces of cat-proof furniture, including sofas, loveseats, and sectionals for those of us with a fluffy buddy (aka a live-in gremlin that shreds upholstery like it's Wolverine). 


Amazon is home to so much more than novelty chicken bags and puppeter gear. The behemoth is filled with some very affordable couches and statement chairs, and they don’t all look like Clip Art drawings that has come to life. Some, such as these bouclé/teddy material couches and chairs, are very on-trend with Japandi aesthetics. Most importantly, the pre-textured fabric will be very forgiving to Mr. Worcester’s midnight claw marks.


Furniture should be customizable, and modular. Stylish. Functional. That is the hill that Burrow dies on, and it works out really well. “Our first task was to reverse-engineer a luxury sofa to separate into modules,” the brand’s website explains about the über durable, mid-century-inspired pieces, “and that ended up unlocking a whole menu of additional benefits.” Burrow's fabrics are made from a durable, stain-resistant material that you can spritz with bleach, and are so tightly woven that they won’t snag. (Which, honestly, sounds great—cat or no cat.) Also, this 1970s-style, avocado green pseudo-conversation pit is the blueprint around which I would build my adult life:

Not that it would fit in my apartment. (One day!) But until then, Burrow’s individual chairs and loveseats are just as stylish for smaller spaces, and the cushions are made of the same medium-density foam so you get that sink-in feeling when you flop down. “[They’re] all CertiPUR-US certified to be free of ozone depleters,” adds Burrow, “formaldehyde, heavy metals, flame retardants, and other nasty, dangerous things found in non-certified cushions.” Yum. 


OK, so the thing to understand about Levity is it’s about the chairs; the best accent chairs, the best dining chairs, and the best chairs for you to curl up inside like a tender human egg with your feline. Release any and all combos of claw marks, hair balls, and spaghetti tears upon these thrones, because they’re all made out of durable, machine-washable covers that were designed to take a beating—including this very Japandi-style lounge chair:

I love buying vintage furniture, but it’s always a risk to throw down for a mid-century modern piece with a tender, aging wool weave on its seat cushion. So it’s damn nice that Levity not only focused on reimagining some of the most classic MCM designs, and in classic MCM color schemes, but that they made sure everything from the living room to dining room chairs has swappable, washable fabrics:

Authentic MCM furniture tends to really lean into teak materials, which is all groovy and gorgeous, but it’s nice to see them make a few cushier pieces like this cozy reading chair:

Interior Define 

Interior Define makes some real double-take furniture, no question about that. The price range is a little higher, but the beauty’s in the details of its piping-lined sofas, nostalgic color range, and 13 pet- and kid-friendly fabrics (including a special leather and velvet). The James sofa is a plushy, rear-end luxuriating investment piece that’s made from sustainably harvested wood and the brand’s special “Performance Velvet” that refuses to quit. 

Again, if you’re looking for something for a smaller space, Interior Define’s Marlow Loveseat also comes in a rich sage Performance Velvet:


You’re going to have to do a bit more sifting at Wayfair, which is packed to the gills with all the kitsch Design Toscano sculptures we absolutely don’t need (but would die without). But the benefit of trawling an e-tailer like this one is that there’s going to be a better price range for furniture than most dedicated pet-proof furniture makers. Go for a couch or chair that’s made out of a highly durable indoor-outdoor fabric by brands like Sunbrella, for example:

All Modern

While we’re talkin’ Wayfair, check out one of the company’s branch-out brands, All Modern, for scratch-proof home furniture. Like Daddy Wayfair, it’s brimming with pieces that can take a pounding, such as their Legend velvet armchair that is so tough, it’s been given a commercial-grade fabric rating. Meaning: If it can handle the whoop ass of Mall Teenagers, it can handle your cat.  

They make quite a few cat-proof furniture pieces in the velvet fabric, including the Dr. Evil-worthy Stargazer egg chair, and the Don Draper-esque dark teal Barrow chair.

Here’s to sitting pretty and unbothered. 

The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter.

Categories: Tech News

This Cheap Theragun Alternative Is My New Favorite Workout Recovery Gadget

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 11:30

I’ve been getting on my #FitnessGrind recently for the first time since I stopped wrestling in college, and let me tell you—I’ve been sore as a door. My freezer is full of ice packs that I use to help with shin splints and knee swelling, and I already take too much ibuprofen for my poor internal organs to handle. So as far as muscle massagers go, I was in the market for something a little more… intense? 

Right now, the hottest sports recovery massager is undoubtedly the cult-fave Theragun. As Adam Rothbarth recently wrote for Vice, the Theragun was originally developed as “a tool that combined vibration therapy and pressure therapy, and that aimed to emulate a deep muscle stimulator.” With its jackhammer-like design, it warms and kneads tissue to offer a high level of relief that's made it a huge hit with athletes of all kinds. The downside: Theraguns (and Therabody's other products) are pricey… very pricey. So I wondered whether I could find a Theragun alternative that would actually compare to the real thing.

I was kicking around the ol’ Amazon-dot-com when I came across this Olsky Handheld Electric Body Massager, which only costs 50 bucks and is currently on sale for under $30, which is insane—rather than the Theragun PRO’s hefty $599 price tag—and has a full 5-star rating average from over 5,800 reviews. Normally, I steer clear of generic Amazon products, but the reviews were so good, the price was right, and I had knocked back one or three pints during the late game on Sunday, so I popped that bad boy into my shopping cart and let her rip. 

Full disclosure: I was going to include this sweet, actually affordable Theragun alternative in our monthly Backed Hard editors' picks, but I’m digging it so much right now that I think it needs its own review. And before the Theragun stans jump into my inbox, I’m not saying this thing is going to replace the ever-expanding line of Therabody products, just that not all of us have hundreds of dollars to spend on celebrity-endorsed noodle annihilators. No, what I’m saying is this is absolutely, unequivocally the next best choice.

I kind of half-forgot about the Olsky massager when it appeared on my doorstep, so when I gave it a try, I wasn’t expecting much. But lemme tell ya: This thing slaps (or pounds, rather). It came half-charged, but that 50% battery life lasted for over a week, with about 20 minutes of serious use per day. It blasts off with a super simple, surprisingly reactive touch screen for its $49 $29.99 price tag. I’ve used the Theragun before, and it feels shockingly similar to the real deal Theragun Elite. Plus, it has nine speed levels and comes with 12 easy-to-use attachments for taking your entire body to Poundtown. 

The quality is also top-notch. While I do appreciate the ergonomic triangle shape of the brand-name Theraguns, Olsky gets the job done just as well. I'm a fairly active runner and biker, and I crank out the occasional set of pushups to make sure I can still do more than my little sister, and this thing helps so much. Personally, I love blasting my muscles with this as I stretch—it really helps me loosen up so I can get a full range of motion during my out-of-shape-Brooklyn-guy apartment yoga sessions. It’s also great for the post-leg day blues, and pounding my glutes and hamstrings with this thing first thing in the morning really helps me do various tasks, including getting out of bed, walking to the kitchen and praying my roommates didn’t finish off the last of the coffee, and sitting on the toilet with less agony than normal. My roommate also recently got meniscus surgery and loves blasting off with this as well, especially on his good leg, since it’s been doing double the work now that he’s on crutches. 

TL;DR—this affordable Theragun alternative rocks. It's the perfect home workout accessory or gift for a fitness-focused loved one, especially if you’re not in the mood to drop a paycheck on a body blaster. Plus, you can always upgrade. [Massages neck.] S-s-s-s-s-ee y-y-y-y-ou n-n-n-n-n-ext t-t-t-time. 

The Olsky Handheld Electric Body Massager is available for purchase on Amazon—and yep, it’s currently on sale for just $29.99.

The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story.  

Categories: Tech News

The Best Anal Sex Toys for Butt Beginners

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 11:15

Alas, anal play isn’t like cornhole. It takes more training—an ongoing rehearsal dinner of fingers, toys, more fingers, and conversations with both yourself and your partner(s) about what feels good—and what can feel even better. “If you’re up for it, try anal training four or five times a week, keeping the toy (a plug or movement with a dildo) in for 10 to 15 minutes,” explains Archie Bongiovanni in VICE’s “How to Train Up Your Butt for Anal Sex of All Kinds.” Every sphincter is a star. Every pursed bumhole, a possibility. “Not only do they look great,” says Bongiovanni, “but they’re also full of nerve endings, meaning anal sex can result in some bomb orgasms.” With a a lot of self-love, lube, and some anal education, you, too, can get there. 

As Bongiovanni explains, you actually have two sphincters in your butt: “an inner one that you can’t control, and an outer sphincter that can be taught to relax, to open, to let pleasure in." It takes time to show that outer one how to have a good time, and to help it grow accustomed to accommodating big stuff. PLEASE: Don’t stick just anything up there. Your inner sphincter is a powerful, wonderful part of your body that can suck up whatever goes in like a sandworm in Dune. That means having a “flare” or wider handle/end to the part of your butt plug that doesn’t go inside of you is essential. No one wants to be the guy who butt-births a bottle of Garnier Fructis at the ER. 

It’s so important to go into anal feeling relaxed, cared for, and with an open mind. Start slow, by lightly tapping or licking your partner’s primped rear. Remember: Lube is your friend. If your partner has a penis, try lightly knuckling the perineum (that spot between the penis and balls), and sliding a finger in there. “If you feel pain, take the toy out and give yourself a day or so before trying again. Remember, “we’re NOT ‘working through’ any pain,” advises Bongiovanni. The right breathing exercises, changing of positions, and time is key. You can’t cram in the training, and become an anal or prostate play aficionado overnight. It takes time, patience and often the right set of graduated, glass butt plugs to get there. But once you are there? WELL. There’s a whole new world of backdoor pleasure that awaits, from the weighted sensation of being filled with a metal or glass plug, to the vibrational pleasures of a remote-controlled, anal toy. Anal isn’t for everyone. But until you’ve lowered the drawbridge… how do you know?

Consider the following sex toys, anal beads, butt plugs, and accessories like a road map. Start off with the essentials, and explore your options in texture, size, and sensation. Find an anal plug—or three—that fits your particular, 2022 edition of being a horny cicada or consensual ancient Greek orgy participant. Bottoms up!

Baby’s first butt plug

… Should be a small, tapered toy made out of glass, which is one of the easier materials on the bum. It's as smooth as it gets, and also great for temperature play, perhaps a little bulbous for a first plug, but we know you’re here to train that anus. That also means getting a toy you have chemistry with—and perhaps, in the immortal words of the Beatles, “I’m seeing through you.” This set of three transparent glass anal plugs looks nice enough to leave out on the nightstand or bathroom shelf, leaving your lover to wonder if it’s simply a set of small, modern sculptures. Start at the smallest and work your way up.  

You’re more of a metalhead

The “stainless” aspect of stainless steel has never held more weight, in our hearts and our bums, than now. This metal beginner’s plug set comes with heart-shaped bejeweled stoppers, and is also great for training and temperature play.  

We’re also very much feeling the graduated beehive shape on this small bejeweled plug:

You came here with a long-haul strategy

God, we love people like you. You came here with a plan, and with just enough tapered, beginners anal plugs to Goldilocks your way into finding out which size works best for you. This glass set will train your bum, and help you discover if you’re craving more texture, weight, or length up there. They’re a butt boudoir staple, and no matter what plugs or sex toys you may move on to tomorrow, they’ll always be there for you whenever you want to step in or out of anal play. They’ll also definitely have you at full tentacle-plug play by the holidays (so here’s an idea: use them to make a nativity!).    

The gateway plug to anal vibrations

See how narrow this plug is? Different bums have different needs, but this is generally what a beginner should be looking for. First time users, consider lubing this tapered toy up and playing with it vibrationless. Then, you can explore its six remote-controlled vibration levels and [MTV airhorn] 15 patterns. Once more, for the horny bros in the back: This toy is remote-controlled, so you can amp up your lover’s vibe whilst checking in on your other duck à l'orange. 

You’re ready for a thicker vibrator

Same as above, but a tad thicker and with 10 functions for folks who need fewer bells and whistles (and more girth). 

You’re ready for a thicker, textured vibrator

That’s where the Firefox browser fox went! This plug is on the thicker side, but its swirly texture makes it a solid transitional plug for slowly twisting up into your bum, much like you’d open a fine bottle of wine. Search, explore, and browse through six different vibrational patterns, on land or in the tub (it’s also “splashproof”). Plus, it’s $50 off right now.  

The Cadillac of remote controlled prostate massagers

LELO is the maker of some the best luxury sex toys on the market (have you seen the brand’s latest G-spot-clitoral vibe? it’s pretty sick), and beloved by people who enjoy quiet, high-design sex toys that will look great sitting casually on their copy of Robb Report. Naturally, LELO’s remote-control prostate massager—sorry, Hugo—is a testament to that quality-driven engineering. There is not one, but two powerful motors, “one vibrating deep inside and the other offering external perineum stimulation,” and the remote works up to about 40 feet (12 meters) away. Of course it’s waterproof, so bring it on the Sea-Doo.

This plug was heaven-sent by Prince

Not really, but we think this medium-sized vibrating butt plug from Unbound Babes is more than worthy of your purple rain. It has an extra wide base and handle, and a 5-star average rating on the site. “This was my first plug and I’m very very happy with it!” writes one reviewer, “The silicone is soft and flexible on the ring/outer part which makes it easy to move around with. As a sex educator, I was also especially pleasantly surprised to see that it comes with a thorough guide on how to use it which includes safety and pleasure information.”

The prostate massager made of Cool Whip 

Finally! We love all the sporty, bike-seat-looking prostate toys. But we were also waiting for one that looked like it was carved from the errant, free-falling cum of a god on Mt. Olympus. The trident shape of this prostate massager is flexible, ample, and easy to hold, yet it wrangles three inches of curved girth for hittin’ that prostate just right. Zeus would never. (But also, he would.)

The vibrating strap-on

Once you’re ready for full penal and/or wand penetration, opt for a smooth dildo like the Siren. It comes with an optional, insertable bullet vibrator (when you’re ready), but its even, smooth texture lets you glide into deeper anal penetration. Note: also great as a strap-on. 

You own a cloak, don’t you?

A bulbous or textured surface is going to be a little next-level when it comes to dildos. This curved one is just so enchanting, and (when properly cleaned and sanitized) can go right up a partner’s vagina—or front butt, as a Midwestern mom once said—as well. 

Forget the pearl necklace

It’s all about the bread crumb trail. Anal beads are a pretty straightforward, bendy little string of graduated, insertable pleasure that can add a little zhuzh to your climax when sloooowly pulled out at the right time. This is indeed a long, tall Texan of a set—but just look at how small the first bead is. This is a string to explore over time, and grow old with. 

Lube the tube

Get to know your lubes. If you’re just fingering down there, you don’t have to worry about lube-toy compatibility. But, as Bongiovanni says, understand that while “silicone lube lasts the longest and has the most glide, [it] isn’t compatible with silicone toys,” and while “water-based lubes are compatible with all toys and barrier methods, [they] absorb the fastest and need to be re-applied often.” Oil-based lubes are some of the slipperiest out there and most-hydrating, he says, but can break down latex. If you’re dizzy from those deets, try testing the waters with Shine, an aesthetic water-based lube for the nightstand by Maude, which is like the Aesop of lube-makers. 

Überlube is also one of the best silicone-based lubes out there, and one of the best cult-fave items you can find on Amazon. “Genuinely the best lube I have ever used, and I've tried a lot of them,” writes one reviewer about the brand, which has over 25,000 reviews and a 4.6-star rating. “It's silky smooth, doesn't dry up, [it] isn't sticky, and [it] doesn't start getting uncomfortable or itchy after you're done with it.” Plus, the bottle is just chef’s kiss stunning.

Find your kink

So, this is cursed. But we love cursed sex toys (no kink-shaming here)! And now we can know what Ariana Grande feels like when she rocks that pony tail through performance antics. Rest assured: This 24-inch, beflamed faux-hair ponytail is also easily washable. Just “hold by the plug end and brush from plug to end, just like you would your own hair.” As one reviewer wrote, “Ein schönes langes Pony Tail. Sehr schön.” A long, beautiful ponytail. So beautiful. See you at the trough. 

The whole smorgasbord

Look around, you seasoned butt player. All of this [gestures to chocolate factory] is yours with a kit like this one, which comes with all you need to stay primped, prepped, and pleased. There’s a static butt plug, vibrating butt plug, graduated anal beads, and a douche for posterity. 

Protect ya bed

The scope of sex furniture is so rich, and there’s truly a pillow, couch, or wedge for every form of sexy time out there (see: the Nugget After Dark community). We know you already have a blanket to lay down for anal play, but wouldn’t you rather have a smaller throw that is stain-proof, moisture-proof, and can be easily tossed into the laundry machine at warp speed? Think of it like a soft, velvety butt bib. 

Have the wipes on hand

Think about it: Adults use wipes for our faces, stainless steel appliances, tile floors, electronics—so why did we suddenly decide to stop keeping our rears extra clean? Seems like a weird transgression from babydom, IMO. Keep these on hand, and love yourself more. “We made sure they’re pH-balanced,” explained the makers at Cake, “and added honeysuckle for skin softness.” As if that wasn’t thoughtful enough, they also come in on-the-go packets for when you want to do anal stuff in the PT Cruiser.

Another one of my favorite brands for cleaning toys and horny holes alike is Promescent, because their wipes are infused with aloe vera, which is especially hydrating and soothing on your skin, and they smell clean and fresh without going overboard on the scent (no Bath & Body Works cucumber mellon vibes here).

Now that we’ve set the scene, let’s roll up those sleeves!

The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story.

Categories: Tech News

Ubisoft’s biggest 2022 game delayed for sixth time in five years

ARS Technica - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 11:08
As <em>Skull & Bones</em> suffers yet another delay, we question Ubisoft's choice of an ominous skull as its featured box-art image.

Enlarge / As Skull & Bones suffers yet another delay, we question Ubisoft's choice of an ominous skull as its featured box-art image. (credit: Ubisoft)

2022 is turning out to be a substantial rebuilding year for game publisher Ubisoft, as its holiday 2022 release slate of major multi-platform games has now been all but wiped clean.

The bad news came on Wednesday when Ubisoft again delayed the launch of its open-world pirate adventure Skull and Bones, this time past its previously suggested November 8 launch date on PC and current-gen consoles. The game maker confirmed the delay to March 9, 2023, after an independent report from Kotaku suggested that S&B's latest rounds of pre-release testing pointed to a stable-but-boring experience for its online multiplayer modes and noted issues with the game's "progression" systems.

Skull and Bones debuted at E3 2017 as an apparent build-out of the third-person, open-seas pirate adventuring found in mid-'10s Assassin's Creed games—albeit with no formal ties to that other Ubisoft-helmed series. As originally announced, players would directly control a pirate ship's captain and issue orders to AI-controlled crewmates to either engage in a solo campaign or connect online for open-seas combat with both PvE (fight the computer) and PvP (fight real players) elements.

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Categories: Tech News

Cloudflare's invisible CAPTCHA works by probing your system with JavaScript

The Register - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 10:42
Beta-grade widget respects your privacy, we're promised

Cloudflare has begun a public beta test of a CAPTCHA alternative that runs quietly in the background to automatically determine if the webpage visitor is an actual human. Its goal is to allow netizens to avoid having to complete those tedious prove-you're-not-a-bot tests on websites.…

Categories: Tech News

DALL-E image generator is now open to everyone

ARS Technica - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 10:33
An artwork created with OpenAI's DALL-E image generator.

Enlarge / An artwork created with OpenAI's DALL-E image generator. (credit: OpenAI)

If you've been itching to try OpenAI's image synthesis tool but have been stymied by the lack of an invitation, now's your chance. Today, OpenAI announced that it removed the waitlist for its DALL-E AI image generator service. That means anyone can sign up and use it.

DALL-E is a deep learning image synthesis model that has been trained on hundreds of millions of images pulled from the Internet. It uses a technique called latent diffusion to learn associations between words and images. As a result, DALL-E users can type in a text description—called a prompt—and see it rendered visually as a 1024×1024 pixel image in almost any artistic style.

Aside from image-to-text generation, DALL-E also includes a feature called "Outpainting" which allows you to upload an image and extend its borders using image synthesis. You can also merge several photos into one by generating a visual bridge between them, blending styles.

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Categories: Tech News

Couple Who Rents Cars Brags About Tracking Customers on TikTok

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 10:31

A couple who rents out cars in Florida has a TikTok account where they show how they track their customers and comment on their driving style, irking privacy experts.

One video, where the couple tracks the movements of a customer who rented a Porsche and laments how fast they are driving, garnered more than 300,000 views on the platform.

“Our Porsche is out on its second trip, it’s gotten booked back to back, which we are really excited about but we are not so excited about getting notifications at…” one of the hosts, Kyle, said in the video.

“All hours of the night,” the other host, John, added.

“…of our guests racing up and down the scenic highway in Pensacola. If you can see those little stop lights, that's every time they do rapid acceleration and the exclamation points are hard braking,” Kyle then said. “Like, what the hell are you doing dude? What are you doing?”

“We’ll see how long before it gets totalled,” John said. 

The viral video has freaked some people out, with some privacy experts pointing out that it was creepy and "gross." 

The couple say they rent cars via a website and on the app Turo. It is very common for owners who put their cars on Turo, an app that allows regular people to rent out their cars, to use trackers to keep an eye on their vehicles, judging from Reddit threads, Amazon reviews, and car blogs. Turo itself has a policy of allowing hosts to track their cars, including tracking GPS location, telematics, cameras with views of the exterior of the car, and dashboard cameras, among others. 

Indeed, in a comment on TikTok, the couple said that “it’s disclosed and allowed/encouraged through Turo.” As for what they are using to track customers, they said that they use a tracker called Bouncie, a small device which can track location, speed, braking, battery and fuel levels, and can detect accidents, according to the official website. The tracker comes with a cellphone app and requires a monthly subscription. 

The fact that the couple publicly shows GPS coordinates of customers and comments on how they drive has irked some privacy experts.

“No company should be posting personal data of their users on the internet without their permission. Unethical and problematic, and just creepy,” Whitney Merrill, a privacy expert and lawyer, told Motherboard. “They have more videos where the wife is just ‘tracking’ the Porsche. And I as a consumer wouldn’t want to rent from any company or individual stalking me like that.”

“Unethical and problematic, and just creepy”

Merrill said that the couple “should explicitly disclose what they collect, how they collect it, and share Bouncie’s privacy notice since that’s the device collecting the data.”

“I really think we need a comprehensive privacy law that regulates the collection, use and sharing of the data collected by these modern cars and devices like Bouncie,” she added.

Eva Galperin, who is also a privacy expert and the director of cybersecurity at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said, “Spying on people who have rented your car (presumably without disclosing) is gross, but making TikToks about it takes it to a whole new level.” 

In another video, John said that “no, we don’t watch the people, we don’t personally care. This stuff is on there for documentation when it gets returned and if there was an incident.”

Kyle and John, as well as Turo, did not respond to a request for comment. 

The couple has an official website, which doesn’t include a privacy policy or terms of service that disclose that the customers will be tracked and their locations will be openly disclosed on TikTok. 

The couple have excellent reviews on their Turo page. And they do include the following disclaimer on the Turo page of their cars: “This vehicle is equipped with GPS and performance monitoring for insurance purposes.” 

There is no mention, however, about potentially ending up on TikTok. 

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Categories: Tech News